“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
Sometimes we sit on the fence between fact and fiction. Do we believe, or do we not? Many pundits and obeah men have agreed that maljo, or bad eye exists; that negative energies can be transmitted from one human to another, which may occasion various reactions. The same can be applied from human to plant and from plant to human. Several years ago in Sangre Grande, an aged woman, who was said to possess bad eyes, approached a neighbour, she called out: “Aye, Compere boy. Ah see yuh have big, nice ochro dere on dem trees. Yuh bettah give mih ah few foh mih callaloo.” The man refused. The woman stared longingly at the ochroes on a particular plant. The next day, the leaves of that plant began to droop; at the end of the week the plant was completely dried. That is only one of many instances of bad eye or maljo in our country, which transmitted strong negative energy toward a plant.
On the flip side, orchid enthusiasts claim that this unique class of plants, respond to positive human energy and so, exhibit lush growth and better blooms when touched with tender, loving care. Many speak in gentle voices and even hum or sing in tones of endearment to their treasured plants. The vibrations of soft classical music also seem to inspire the general all-round health of the orchids. One such lady who cultivates a garden of orchids said, “Even though I show love and tenderness to my orchids, I sometimes threaten the plants which are not striving well, to chop them down. Seemingly, they begin to improve.” Many others who also cultivate orchids complain of slow growth and general poor health of their plants. It is said that this condition may exist with those who are disgruntled, disturbed, frustrated, of seemingly chronic angry moods. These may create a repulsive aura; not only to plants but also to those around them. But we must agree that in this confused world of stress it may be unavoidable and regrettable.
Among our plants, the huge Silk Cotton tree stands out as one feared by many; especially hunters who claim that it gives out negative energies, which can lead to mishaps. Just a few years ago, a young hunter of South Oropouche, in his attempt to capture a manicou from a Silk Cotton tree, unfortunately, fell to his demise. In another related incident, a similar, huge tree was being hued down on the side bank of the Lady Hailes Avenue in San Fernando, when a heavy dismembered branch fell onto the owner of the chain saw, which was being used in the operation. Hunters of the past related countless weird apparitions of Jumbie manicou in the vicinity of those legendary Silk Cotton trees. The beautiful Barbadine vine is also believed to possess some strange ability to whistle and sometimes, even call names in a human voice. Several years ago, in a Southern village, a woman had just taken a shower in a little detached bath cubicle behind her house, when she heard a loud, wolf whistle emanating from a Barbadine vine which grew on the link wire fence behind the bath cubicle. The whistle was followed by a man’s voice, shouting her name.
She hurried out in search but saw no one. It was not a familiar voice. A woman neighbour who lived on the other side of the link wire fence also heard the sounds and rushed to her gallery. There was no one on either side of the fence. The Pundit was called in when the woman complained similar calls were heard several weeks before. The Pundit waved a warning finger as he said, “Dat vine is ah bewitching vine. Dat could cause all kind of disturbing feel in your house and t’ings could go wrong all de times. Money runnin’ out, quarrel in de house, car giving trouble. Dat vine does give out negative vibes. Cut it down one time and every t’ing will go right.” The vine was destroyed and all negative energies were gone. Among the Hindus, there are many trees, which were brought from India. Those are considered to be of good spiritual and medicinal values.
The Ashoka tree is one which is rare and is considered sacred; it is also called the ‘Wishing Tree’. Every part of the tree is said to be of medicinal value; the leaves, flowers, seeds, bark and roots. If someone has any deep desire or wish, that individual must be pure of thoughts and deeds, humble and calm, as he or she sits in the shade of the tree and pray for the fulfilment of that wish. That wish, however, must not be impossible or ridiculous. It is said that women who could not conceive, prayed for that fulfilment and was successful. Others included young lovers, married couples, students and others of diverse desires, who received good results. At almost every Hindu temple is a Peeparr tree; considered as the ‘tree of peace’. Those who need to be relieved of stress must sit at the roots of the Peeparr, relax and meditate. Its positive energy helps to restore the balance of body soul and spirit.
The Neem is considered, the ‘healing tree’. It is also used to distract insects. There are many more; each considered sacred and possess positive energy. The Chinese, who generally have a sensitivity toward plants, have created an art and science of cultivating selected plants. These plants are introduced in well charted and organised placing around and in the homes, to create that symbiotic balance through the exchange of energies between the plants and human beings. The well-known bamboo is a popular inclusion in many of their arrangements. The world over, now appears to be looking back at the natural exchange and balance between plants and animals, which includes us as human beings. There is an awakening to the medicinal value of our humble herbs in alternative healing; the search for special species, the preservation, cultivation and use for a positively, energised and healthy world.